Ryerson’s move to cut ties with RSU means bigger problems for student representation

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Ryerson shouldn’t be prioritizing student dollars over its students, but that’s exactly what it’s done in terminating its agreement with the school’s student government.
 
On Jan. 24, Ryerson University terminated its operating agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) in response to the union’s governance failures and irresponsible financial mismanagement.
 
The scale of the RSU’s corruption and financial mismanagement, as revealed by The Eyeopener, is staggering. It’s nothing to make light of. The union has demonstrated a pattern of failure when it comes to serving the best interests of the students it represents.
 
Ryerson’s current approach—cutting ties with the RSU after its failure to uphold its integrity—may be a reasonable response to the student union’s recent misconduct, but it’s not the most constructive one.
 
Ryerson gave the RSU time to rectify its internal problems and, given the turnover of four of six executive positions this year, the union is obviously struggling to do so. But the relationship is two-sided: Ryerson could have provided the union assistance in its bid to smooth its internal workings.
 
The termination of Ryerson’s agreement with the RSU has a far greater impact than simply punishing the union for its transgressions.
 
Without an officially recognized student union, Ryerson’s students are left without an organization to advocate for them. Access to the essential services the RSU provides, like medical and dental coverage, are left in jeopardy, and the future of important student-run initiatives such as the RSU’s seven Equity Service Centres are in limbo.
 
Although Ryerson has articulated a commitment to ensuring that some services and benefits will remain accessible for the remainder of this year, how they plan to achieve this and which services they will support remains unclear. 
 
The existing operating agreement between Ryerson and the RSU was obviously lacking, but threatening to support a new student union goes too far. The University should focus its efforts instead on rebuilding a better relationship with the existing RSU, not subjecting Ryerson students to the turmoil and uncertainty that would accompany a new union’s formation.
 
Of course, if the University and the union are to continue a productive relationship, this past agreement won’t suffice. More mechanisms for accountability and oversight need to be implemented in any future agreement between the two bodies in order to better insure responsible spending of students’ money.
 
Student unions play a vital role to protect and provide opportunities for students. 
 
In choosing not to recognize the RSU as representing Ryerson students, the University is leaving those students without the union’s services.
 
It was Ryerson’s decision to end their agreement with the RSU. Now, the onus is on them to forge a new, better one.
 

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